Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Infinity War

We finally purchased Avengers Infinity War and sat down to watch it this weekend. The outcome left me feeling deeply dissatisfied, despite the stellar settings and special effects.

Doing some research now, I see it was originally titled Infinity War - Part 1, but sometime during production of the movie they decided to shorten the title. The former would have been more honest and would have set reasonable expectations, because as it is I was expecting a complete story with a satisfying ending like all the other Marvel movies so far.

On its own, which is the only way I knew to view it at the time, the movie does indeed conclude on a natural ending point, but in doing so it kinda breaks an essential contract of trust with the viewer.

Yes, I’m upset that some (actually a lot of) good characters die. It finished on a serious down note with the bad guy winning when you expect the good guys to win somehow. On its own, that is not a problem.

When I analyzed things after the fact from a writer’s perspective, I realized that the lack of satisfaction for me was that I spent two hours watching something that, in the end, was not a story!

I felt misled.

To me, a story involves someone reaching a goal after overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles. It involves people facing impossible choices with no good outcome, that have you biting your nails wondering which way they’ll go. It involves twists that take your breath away, wondering where the heck that came from.

The overwhelming odds were against the Avengers, not Thanos, as you would expect. He had it easy, and he succeeded. If the baddie is going to win then they need to face significant obstacles too. Yes, Thanos faced a painful choice when it came to the soul stone, but given his single-minded obsession with his quest there was never even a shadow of doubt about what he would do. And various sub-plots like dealing with the mind stone in Vision’s head were hardly obstacles or twists, they felt like artificial padding to ramp up suspense with no emotional payback at the end. The stone is exceedingly difficult to extract safely. They fail to extract it. In the real world that is all ... well, duh! But stories are supposed to take us out of the real world and deliver a satisfying emotional experience.

To summarize: The party with all the power and all the advantages methodically achieves a series of objectives and successfully reaches his final goal. That is not a story, it’s a project report.

8 comments:

  1. I knew it was part one and only half of the story and that half the characters died when I went to see it. So it didn't bother me that it's not complete. And that the ending is a bummer. (Although not as bad an ending at the movie Se7en - hated it.)

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  2. Hi Ian - well I've no idea ... but I do hate being disappointed, so can feel your frustration. Hope you can find something better and happier to see next?! Cheers Hilary

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  3. Alex, if it had been clear going in that it was only the first part and not a complete story then I would have viewed it differently. As it is, I went through the entire 2 hours with a completely different set of expectations and came out at the end feeling badly cheated.

    Hilary, the movie itself was actually fantastic, up until the end when it didn't resolve properly, and when I discovered why, I felt cheated. If it wasn't for that let down, I would have been happy with it.

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    1. My husband and my son saw it. They enjoyed the movie and looked forward to the sequel. Since I didn't see it, I can't make an informed comment, but FWIW, it bites to feel dissatisfied after sitting through a two hour movie. Hope the sequel brings better results.

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  4. I knew going in that it was only the first half of a complete story. So, yeah, I was fine with the way the ending happened.

    That being said, I won't ever watch it again until the conclusion is already out in theaters and before I go see it.

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  5. Andrea, David, I'll probably see the sequel when it finally comes out, but it had darned well better be worth it!

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  6. My hubby and I were a little disappointed with the "ending," too. But we still enjoyed it and will see the sequel when it comes out.

    Books without ending annoy me much more. Cliffhangers that are designed primarily to manipulate readers into buying the next installation aggravate the fire out of me.

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  7. Susan, books that stop mid-flow annoy the crap out of me too! I usually mentally flag those authors as to be avoided in future.

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